US Department of State

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  www.state.gov

US Department of State Reviews

Updated October 20, 2014
Updated October 20, 2014
352 Reviews
3.9
352 Reviews
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US Department of State Secretary of State John Kerry
John Kerry
95 Ratings

Review Highlights

Pros
  • See the world while serving your country (in 14 reviews)

  • If you work for the Foreign Service, you get to see the world in so many meaningful ways (in 28 reviews)


Cons
  • The biggest turn off for me were actually the foreign service officers (in 31 reviews)

  • This can dramatically impact work-life balance for years at a time (in 10 reviews)

More Highlights

Employee Reviews

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  1.  

    Summer Internship

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Intern in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Intern in Washington, DC

    I have been working at US Department of State as an intern (less than an year)

    Pros

    Tremendous exposure to the inner workings of the foreign policy machine.

    Cons

    Human Resources are a disaster. The internship itself was totally unorganized and provided very little guidance or mentorship.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    State needs to consider restructuring its internship program to fall more in line with private sector standards of organization.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  2.  

    Great experience

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Intern in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Intern in Washington, DC

    I worked at US Department of State full-time (less than an year)

    Pros

    I accepted an internship position at the China and Mongolia Desk. It was a fantastic experience. You do get the chance to network and have access to interesting cables. The security clearance ain't bad either.

    Cons

    That said, they really need to give more than just a transportation stipend for all the extra hours you can work. This unpaid internship nonsense has to stop in general, but especially regarding the federal government.

    Recommends
    Approves of CEO
  3.  

    Interning with the State Department was occasionally interesting but also involved lots of mundane clerical work.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Intern
    Former Employee - Intern

    I worked at US Department of State as an intern (less than an year)

    Pros

    Great benefits as expected working for the government. Decent work environment and culture. Facilities were all very new and comfortable.

    Cons

    Bureaucratic inefficiency rears its ugly head relatively frequently. The work-life balance is very healthy however, as almost no one is forced to work extra hours. Working during significant international incidents is considerably more interesting than normal day-to-day routines.

    Recommends
    No opinion of CEO
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  5.  

    Hierarchy reigns

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Office Management Specialist in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Office Management Specialist in Washington, DC

    I have been working at US Department of State full-time (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    Travel. If you work for the Foreign Service, you get to see the world in so many meaningful ways. You arrive to Post with a home to move into, and all arrangements made. Even if serving in a hot spot…though those arrangements are quite different! if you are up for serving in a war zone - these can be some of the most rewarding work environments possible in ones career. Not always, but often.

    Cons

    The rigidity of hierarchy and established 'cultural' norms. It has too many inept managers, and few real leaders. All is dictated from Washington, DC, by some of the aforementioned types, who do not really know the situation on the ground in the country they are helping to guide and thus, push their own agendas without listening to the leaders in the field. Additionally, the bureaucracy does not allow for true recruiting from within. A broad swath of employees , with immense capabilities and intimate knowledge of the work of an Embassy, interested in pursuing alternate paths within the Department, are essentially cut-out and cut off. Lastly, it is a system. People know how to play the system, either by hobnobbing with the 'elite' back in DC, or through their annual reviews. When it comes to the latter, all too often managers are too afraid to present an honest assessment of a person's value and talent. Thus, everyone walks on water no matter how incompetently they performed during a given year. Or even egregiously. No one wants to rock the boat and we end up with some truly scary individuals as part of our Senior Foreign Service - 'leaders' who represent us quite publicly.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Break down the hierarchy. Allow real dialogue. Hire people more interested in the actual work than in achieving their next EER bullet. Ensure personnel are truly ready to be placed in leadership positions before promoting them to senior levels. Recognize that beyond the rigid structures of staffing, there are enormous resources by way of personnel, who are kept from moving within the silos. Stop attaching peoples success to the 'superiors' they are 'subordinate' to. Stop using the word 'subordinate'.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  6.  

    DOS offers unlimited opportunities for growth and experience.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at US Department of State full-time (more than 10 years)

    Pros

    For those interested in learning about new cultures and how the US interacts with them, it offers one of the best environments to do so. There are many opportunities for international travel and living overseas for helping others and for making a difference. Most of all, you make lifelong friendships and excellent professional connections.

    Cons

    There is an insider/outsider mentality that veils the department. At times, it can seem somewhat like a "Glee" club with too many smiling faces hiding their true feelings. In order to excel in this environment you must know the inside game and play it well. Insiders that accept you will teach you the hidden dos and don'ts for success.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Think and step outside the box sometimes

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  7.  

    Positive internship within HR dept

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Intern in Arlington, VA
    Former Employee - Intern in Arlington, VA

    I worked at US Department of State part-time (less than an year)

    Pros

    Learned a great deal of how the govt works especially in HR matters

    Cons

    Nothing really. I dont have anything

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Nothing

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  8.  

    The internship in Public Affairs was fantastic! No complaints.

    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at US Department of State as an intern

    Pros

    Fun, varied work environment, challenging.

    Cons

    No cons to speak of, very much enjoyed my time there.

    Recommends
  9. 2 people found this helpful  

    Summer Internship

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at US Department of State as an intern (less than an year)

    Pros

    I worked abroad in an embassy and I had a mixed experience. The positives is that my boss allowed me to experience the different sectors of the embassy and encouraged me to be involved in different sections. The first week or so was a little slow, but after I got all my briefings I got more work to do that filled my day. I had the menial tasks like making copies, but I also got to help on big projects which was great. Everyone, even the higher ups would check in with me to see how I was going and was very kind. I was also given housing and transportation to the embassy. Without the provided housing and transportation I would not have been able to intern, since the position is unpaid.

    Cons

    The biggest turn off for me were actually the foreign service officers. I assumed that foreign service officers were open minded since they are essentially the face of the U.S. Some, not all, of the officers looked down a lot on the country and the people who lived in the country. Some of them made fun of the people they rejected for visas, they were often rude to the local staff and to the people who worked in the cafeteria. They referred to the country as stupid and sometimes to the people as unintelligent. Some took pride in the fact that they were diplomats and police officers wouldn't stop them for traffic violations, so they drove recklessly. These behaviors made me question if the foreign service would ever be a track I would pursue and sometimes overshadowed the very positive things I was experiencing.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Consider a stipend for inters.

    Recommends
    No opinion of CEO
  10. 1 person found this helpful  

    Foreign Service for 25 Years

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Foreign Service Officer in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Foreign Service Officer in Washington, DC

    I have been working at US Department of State full-time (more than 10 years)

    Pros

    If you have a strong motivation for public service, there are few places where you can have as much impact during a career. Working abroad, you are part of a much smaller team as compared to DC. Living abroad is great. Whether good or bad, the Department takes care of most of the complicated parts of living overseas. Housing and maintenance of your residence is included. You don't have to get your own visa. There is usually a commissary of food and alcohol so you don't have to do without your favorites from the States. It can be living in a bubble but the lack of hassle is nice.

    Cons

    It is a bureaucracy. Overseas, the bureaucracy is less but the home office can be insane! Moving from place to place involves far too many steps. Each time it feels like the bureaucracy is doing it for the first time. Despite the process for entering the Foreign Service being so rigorous, there are far too many bad managers. Most career managers are good but people promoted to the deputy chief of mission often have almost no management experience and then are managing 100 people. No wonder they fail. Except at the highest levels, members of the Foreign Service don't make policy. As a result, some find themselves advocating for policies against which they strongly object. One has to make peace with that.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Get more management training for mid-level officers. Actively identify bad managers earlier. Doing 360 reviews at the time of assignments is not enough. Ensure that feedback from subordinates is taken seriously. Change the evaluation system so it doesn't depend so much on the quality of the writing of your boss and doesn't overstate accomplishments and their significance.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  11.  

    The review

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - MSG
    Former Employee - MSG

    I worked at US Department of State full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    Amazing training and travel experience.

    Cons

    bad sleep schedule. long hours.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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